Venus Williams overcame a slow start in her second round match at the French Open as Kurumi Nara made the American work hard for the win. The scoreline is largely deceiving as the Japanese put up a tough fight and often dictated play, but Williams was the better player at the crucial moments.
Williams claims five consecutive games
Nara had a slow start to the match as she was overwhelmed by the precise and powerful groundstrokes by Williams, as seen in the opening game when the American had a 0-40 lead to begin the match with. Nevertheless, Nara came up with some solid groundstrokes and troubled Williams with them, forcing errors out of her, getting the nervy service hold in the opening game as she managed to fend off four break points. Despite being pegged back to deuce from 40-15 up, Williams held her serve to level the scores.
After comfortably holding her serve, it was not much of a surprise that Nara made the first breakthrough in the set after looking like the fresher player on the court, breaking serve in the fourth game to take the early lead as Williams did not look at her best. Nevertheless, as the match progressed, the former world number one became better and better, which saw her break straight back in the next game to return level on serve as soon as possible.
Consolidating the break of serve, Williams had to engage herself in a battle with the determined Nara in the seventh game as the Japanese wasted three game points and allowed the American to convert her fifth break point of the game to take the lead for the first time in the match, prevailing in the marathon 12-minute game.
Williams then fended off a crucial break point opportunity in the next game, eventually holding her serve to consolidate the break and extend her lead to 5-3, keeping her just one game away from winning the first set. Serving to stay in the set, Nara was broken to love as Williams looked to be at her best now, sealing the first set after 48 minutes of play.
Williams comfortably seals the win
Carrying over the momentum from the first set, Williams had the perfect start to the second set as she sealed her opening service game with an ace. The rout continued for Nara as she lost her sixth successive game, getting broken after the American fired four winners in five points to get the early lead in the second set.
Williams then almost lost a 40-0 lead but managed to fend off a break point in the marathon 18-points game, consolidating the break in a very tight game. Nara finally got herself on the scoreboard in the set when Williams missed a break point after hitting a backhand unforced error, allowing the Japanese to regain some confidence.
The Australian Open finalist then had to dig herself out of a 0-30 hole to hold onto her lead, suffering a huge scare. Looking confident and in red-hot form, Williams broke serve to love once again to be just a game away from winning the match. Comfortably serving out the match, Williams sealed the win after just 1 hour and 20 minutes, sealing a spot in the third round once again.